Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

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One Day in St. Kitts

View from Brimstone Hill

As I stated last week, when I began to research the ports on this cruise, I knew right away what I wanted to do in St. Lucia, I had the exact opposite response to St. Kitts. I had no idea what I wanted to see or do on the island. I didn’t book anything for this port until we were on the ship! We ended up doing a half-day island tour called Essential St. Kitts. The tour visited Brimstone Hill Fortress, Romney Manor, and a stop at Timothy Hill.

St. Kitts from the Ship

St. Kitts from the Ship

The tour didn’t leave until the afternoon, so we enjoyed a relaxing morning on the ship, doing the Flow Rider, playing in the pickleball tournament, playing putt-putt, and winning at trivia. This was the rainiest day we had had on the trip and the pickleball tournament ended up being canceled because the court became too slippery to play, although if you ask the guys, they will tell you that they won. After a light lunch at the Windjammer, we headed to port for our tour.

I was glad we chose a sightseeing tour instead of a beach day because it rained most of the day and was pretty chilly. We boarded our bus and headed out to get to know the island. Our tour guide explained to us that before 2005, much of the island was covered in sugarcane. In 2005, the government decided to stop subsidizing sugarcane and instead put its money into tourism and this has paid off immensely for the island.

Gardens of Romney Manor

The first stop of our tour was Romney Manor. Romney Manor (above) is home to a popular gift shop in St. Kitts known as Caribelle Batik, which sells hand-dyed sea island cotton using an ancient Indonesian method. Since it was raining everyone on our tour crowded inside the gift shop. We decided to brave the elements and walk the grounds. The gardens are beautiful and I would’ve loved to see it on a sunny day!

Romney Manor has a fascinating history. The property was purchased in 1625 by Sam Jefferson II, Thomas Jefferson’s great, great, great grandfather. It has had only four other owners throughout the centuries and was the first estate on St. Kitts to free its slaves. The Saman Tree on the property is the largest living thing on St. Kitts. It is over 400 years old and covers half an acre.

Prince of Wales Bastion

Prince of Wales Bastion

From Romney Manor, we headed to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (top). Canon were first mounted on Brimstone Hill in 1689 but it was 100 years before the fort as we know it today was completed. The fort changed hands between the British and the French several times but has been in British control since The Treaty of Paris ended the American Revolution and gave control of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis to the British.

Restoration of the Fort began in the 1900s. The Prince of Wales Bastion (above) was the first part of the fort to be completely restored and Prince Charles was there at the reopening in 1973. In 1985, Queen Elizabeth unveiled a plaque naming Brimstone Hill a National Park.

Looking toward Nevis

After touring the fortress, we headed to Timothy Hill, which is really just a photo stop. While Romney Manor and Brimstone Hill are on the western part of St. Kitts, Timothy Hill is on the southeastern part of the island and the sister island of Nevis can be seen from this spot. I am glad we booked a tour that stopped here, but I wouldn’t plan my whole trip around it.

Overall, I enjoyed my day on St. Kitts and would love a chance to return to the island! I would’ve loved more time to explore Brimstone Hill and maybe a beach day on the resort (southeast) side of the island!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Island a Day Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Marigot Bay

Marigot Bay

One Day in St. Lucia

The Pitons of St. Lucia

Unlike some of the other ports on this cruise, once I did a little research into St. Lucia, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I saw a picture of the Pitons and knew that I had to get that iconic St. Lucia shot (above!) The question was, which tour would be the best one to take to get us there?

Back at the end of March, to leave the port area in St. Lucia, you had to be on a government-approved tour and the easiest way to do that was to book through the cruise line. We chose the tour that Royal Caribbean called St. Lucia – Island Delights. This tour advertised a drive around the island to Soufriere where you would get a view of the Pitons after driving through a few St. Lucia fishing towns. After viewing the Pitons, the tour takes you to Morne Coubaril Estate for a guided tour of the estate, and a stop at the drive-through volcano (we ended up at Toraille Waterfall, instead, though) before enjoying a creole buffet lunch overlooking the Pitons.

View of the Pitons from our lunch spot

View of the Pitons from our lunch spot

It is a long drive on narrow, twisty roads from Castries, St. Lucia to Soufriere. I was very glad I didn’t have to be the one behind the wheel, but it was absolutely beautiful to watch the scenery go by. Most of St. Lucia is a rainforest so it rained on and off throughout our drive. The photo stops we made along the way were absolutely worth the trip, but the Morne Coubaril Estate tour ended up being a highlight of this whole cruise!

Our tour guide holding a fresh cacao podWhen we got to the estate, our tour guide pointed out the local flora, and then we got to see coconuts husked and drink fresh coconut water. It got even more interesting when we got to the cocoa house and we were able to taste a ripe cocoa bean (left). Let me tell you, it tastes nothing like you would expect, almost like fruit punch. Then, they explained the fermentation and drying process and we got to see the cocoa dance (how they polish the dried beans). After that, we walked to the sugar cane mill and got to taste the fresh cane juice. I have never experienced anything like this. This tour absolutely blew me away! As a lover of dark chocolate, you can be sure I picked up a bar of their estate dark chocolate in the gift shop!

Toraille WaterfallAfter the tour of the estate, we headed to the Toraille Waterfall (right). There were changing rooms for you to change so you could swim in the waterfall. Nowhere in our booking did it say to bring swimwear so no one in our group did. The waterfall was fine to see. I have seen many waterfalls, I was much more excited for the volcano, but it seems like they are changing that out for the waterfall now on this tour.

After taking a few shots of the waterfall, we headed to our buffet lunch overlooking the Pitons. I was really glad to get an authentic St. Lucia dining experience. All of the food was delicious and you could not beat the view (above). Our tour guide told us that bananas are the biggest industry in St. Lucia, so I was not surprised to see so many of them on the buffet, I just wish I wasn’t allergic!

Morne Coubaril Estate

St. Lucia ended up being our favorite port on the cruise and it may even be my favorite port stop on all of my cruises! If you have the opportunity to visit St. Lucia, take it! Definitely check out Morne Coubaril Estate and do the estate tour. It was an experience unlike anything else I’ve experienced in my life! I left my heart on this island and I cannot wait to return!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Island a Day Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Boats in Marigot

Boats in Marigot Bay

One Day in St. Maarten

Marigot from Fort St. Louis

Marigot from Fort Louis

St. Maarten is the smallest island made up of two countries in the world. Half of the island is Dutch and half is French. Philipsburg, which is where most cruise ships dock is on the Dutch side of the island. The Dutch side of the island (known as Sint Maarten) is a lot like most other Caribbean islands but the French side (known as St. Martin) is like a taste of Europe in the Caribbean. We were very excited to spend time on the French side of the island, but I couldn’t find an excursion through Royal Caribbean that gave us the flexibility to do that, so I did a ton of research and we ended up renting a Jeep to explore the island on our own.

Fort St. Louis

We hopped in our Pink Jeep (I really wish I would’ve gotten a picture of it!) and headed from Phillipsburg to Marigot, the first town you get to on the French side of the island. We explored the popular Marigot market and headed up to Fort St. Louis. The fort was built in 1789 to protect the warehouses of Marigot from pirates. It’s an easy climb to the top and the fort provides a beautiful view of the Marigot Bay all the way to Anguilla on a clear day!

Rose on the beach as Nice SXM

After exploring the fort, we headed to Grand Case for lunch. Grand Case is the foodie mecca of St. Martin with little French Bistros and Caribbean barbecue shacks called “lolos” dotting the beautiful beach. We got stuck in terrible traffic between Marigot and Grand Case, so we did not get nearly as much time to spend there as I was hoping, but we did have a wonderful French Lunch with a gorgeous view at Nice SXM.

Jewel of the Seas coming in to St. MaartenInterestingly, this was the only port on this cruise where there were other ships in port with us. There were three other Royal Caribbean ships in Phillipsburg this day, the Jewel of the Seas (which my in-laws had just gotten off of), Harmony of the Seas, and Rhapsody of the Seas, although it didn’t look like there were any passengers on Rhapsody. Anyway, it was fun to watch them dock and check out the other Royal Caribbean ships, especially Harmony!

There was so much more I wanted to see (and eat) in St. Maarten. It has made its way to our (long) list of places we want to return to. If you are visiting St. Maarten on a cruise ship, don’t feel like you have to use one of the cruise line’s shore excursions. If you choose to explore on your own, I highly recommend renting from The Jeep Plug. They gave us a great map and tips for driving around the island.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Island a Day Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: St. Thomas

St. Thomas

One Day in St. Croix

View of St. Croix

Most cruises have one to two sea days where you have no port stops that give you time to relax and get to know the ship. This Southern Caribbean cruise that we took did not have any sea days. So after a lot of time spent researching each of the ports and what there was to do, we decided to choose two port days where we would take it easy and not have much of a plan. We chose our day in St. Croix to be one of these days.

St. Croix is the least visited of the U.S. Virgin Islands and is the most agricultural. This was very evident in the shore excursion options available in Frederiksted. The third-party shore excursion websites didn’t have anything and what was available through Royal Caribbean was expensive and not very interesting. So, we used this day to sleep in, have breakfast in the dining room, and play Pickleball before heading off to explore St. Croix.

Fort Frederik

Right at the end of the cruise pier in Frederiksted is Fort Frederik. Fort Frederik is a red masonry fort built by the Danish in the mid-18th century to ward off pirates. The fort, named for the Danish King Frederik V, is on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the most interesting facts about Fort Frederik is that it is believed that Fort Frederik fired the first salute from foreign soil to the new nation of the United States in October of 1776. In 1848, the fort was also the location of a slave revolt that led to the emancipation of slaves in the West Indies.

The fort is pretty small and doesn’t take too long to visit. Like many places in the Caribbean, the fort was damaged by Hurricane Maria and many of the exhibits did not survive. It only costs $5 to enter the museum and they could use all the money they can get to continue the restoration work.

After walking through the fort, we walked the main drag, found a coffee shop and bakery, and got caught in the most torrential rain I’ve ever experienced on a cruise. We had to hide out for a while to avoid getting soaked! After walking around for a little bit we headed back to the ship. It was fun to sit out on our balcony and watch the people return (top). Our friends could even see turtles from their balcony!

Explorer of the Seas in St. Croix

The other port where we ended up taking it easy like this was in Bridgetown, Barbados. I don’t know if it is still like this, but in March, to get off the ship in Barbados you had to take an approved tour. By this point in our trip, we had already visited four ports and we were tired. Nothing looked super exciting so all we ended up doing was shopping in the port area and going back to the ship. This was really hard for the die-hard traveler in me, but I guess now I have a reason to return to Barbados!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Island a Day Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Charlotte Amalie

Docking in St. Thomas

Snorkeling Virgin Islands National Park

Honeymoon Beach

When I booked this cruise with two ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the first thing I did was look up Virgin Islands National Park and see how possible it would be to get there from St. Thomas or St. Croix. As it turns out, the National Park is located on St. John and there is no airport on the island. The only way to get there is by boat, with a ferry running from St. Thomas.

With a limited time in port for the day and the number of steps needed to get to the National Park (taxi from the port to the ferry dock, ferry to St. John, taxi/tour around the island), we decided to book a St. John Island Tour excursion through the cruise line. Unfortunately, that tour was canceled due to lack of interest so, with one day’s notice after we had boarded the ship, we had to figure out a new plan. We decided the easiest way to the National Park was through the one available excursion which they called “Champagne Catamaran Sail and Snorkel”.

Boats at Honeymoon Beach

Boats at Honeymoon Beach

From the port, we took an open-air bus to Red Hook where we boarded our catamaran for St. John. After tossing anchor at Honeymoon Beach, we got a snorkeling safety talk and tips about where to view the coral and the turtles and we jumped in the water. For one of my friends, this was the first time she had swam in saltwater, so it was a shock for her!

Turtle Swimming at Honeymoon Beach

Snorkeling with Turtles

I enjoyed snorkeling through the reef and seeing all the interesting sea life, for me, but the highlight of this snorkeling adventure was seeing a turtle! It was easy to tell when someone had spotted a turtle because there were a bunch of people in a circle around it. We watched it swim to the surface and then go back down to the sand.

After our snorkeling adventure, we got back on the boat and sipped champagne and cocktails on the way back to St. Thomas. It was a great excursion and I am glad we chose it, but I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the rest of the island. I guess we will have to go back sometime and get to spend some time on the land!

Fish seen snorkeling

We originally didn’t have any snorkeling booked for this cruise, so I didn’t end up buying a new action camera or waterproof housing for my phone as I had planned. So, the first night after booking this excursion, I had to go to the photo studio and pay cruise prices for a waterproof phone case, so I would have photos to share with you from this excursion. Learn from my mistake! If there is a possibility of snorkeling and you want photos to remember it (or if you’re like me and wear glasses and take photos while snorkeling so later you can see what was down there), buy your gear before your trip!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Island a Day Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: La Coca Falls

La Coca Falls

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